The Mount Airy tennis team got a little resistance in their third completed match of the 2016 season, but it wasn’t enough to derail the Granite Bears’ string of season-opening victories.
The team received a visit from defending Western Piedmont 2-A champion West Stokes on Monday night, with a big crowd making the trip from King to see if their team could knock off the perennial 1-A contenders from Mount Airy. They went home disappointed, as the Bears improved to 3-0 with an 8-1 victory.
The Wildcats earned their only victory at No. 1 doubles, where Ethan Elliott and Noah Spainhour topped Hunt Harrison and Harrison Morris by an 8-4 count. Mount Airy won everything else, although they did get a significant challenge from West Stokes in several of the matches.
The highlight of the match, for Bear fans, came at the No. 1 singles, where Harrison challenged Elliott, the defending 2-A Midwest Regional champion. At first, the match looked like it was going to be a wipeout in favor of the Wildcats, as Harrison held serve only once in a first set that ended in a 6-1 rout for Elliott. The visitor then won four of the first five games of set two, meaning that he’d won 1o of the first 12 games and needed just two more for the victory.
At this point, Harrison pulled himself together and rallied, winning five of the next six games to serve for the set victory at 6-5. Elliott responded by breaking him and forcing a set tiebreaker, where Harrison saved match point at 5-6 and then won four of the next five points to win the tiebreaker 9-7. That sent the match to a match tiebreaker, where Elliott took a 4-1 lead, eventually earning his second and third match points. Again Harrison fought him off, taking the tiebreaker into extra points and ultimately winning it, and the match, 1-6, 7-6 (9-7), 12-10.
The battle between Harrison and Elliott carried on until the other singles matches were completed and the doubles were under way. Mount Airy ended up sweeping the singles, with only the No. 5 being particularly close on the scoreboard. In that one, the Bears’ Grey Tucker scored a tightly-contested 8-6, 6-4 win over Cameron Gresong. Mount Airy coach Rodney Pell noted that the players forgot to play a tiebreaker set after tying 6-6 in the first set, instead playing on under the pro rules until someone had a lead of two games won. The victory gave Mount Airy a 5-0 lead in matches won and the overall team win.
The coach also said that the No. 4 singles, between Emory Bray and the Wildcats’ Noah Spainhour, was closely contested in terms of the game action, with Bray winning 6-3, 6-3. The others weren’t so close. Morris was down 2-3 at No. 2 singles to Frank Seles, but rallied to win 6-3, 6-2. At No. 3, Gentry Williamson defeated Andrew Spainhour 6-2, 6-1. At No. 6, Mount Airy’s Hunter Eaton beat Ian Simpson 6-2, 6-0.
In the other two doubles matches, Williamson and Bray beat Seles and Andrew Spainhour 8-5 at No. 2, and Eaton and Owen Perkins downed Cresong and Simpson 8-2.
The Bears open conference play today at Atkins.